Zehra: A Generation Lost to the Syrian War, a Graphic Novel
Illustrations: Susnata Paul
On 15 March, the Syrian war will have entered its eighth year. But the rest of the world seems to be looking away as the clashes between the Bashar al-Assad government – backed by the likes of Russia and Iran – and the rebels, backed by the US and Saudi Arabia, continue to shred Syria to pieces.
As per a 2017 Save the Children study, an estimated 5.8 million children in Syria have been affected by the conflict. “The prolonged exposure to war, stress and uncertainty, means that many children are in a state of ‘toxic stress’,” says ‘Invisible Wounds’, a study that attempts to study the mental health of these children. At least 3 million Syrian children under the age of six know nothing but war, the report states.
From losing friends and family, to seeing death up close at a tender age, these children bear the brunt of a war that they do not understand. The ones who continue to live in Syria struggle with minimal supply of food, water and electricity, often growing numb to the incessant airstrikes and attacks around them. Most of the schools are gone, as are the hospitals. Some of the children are recruited by armed groups, while others are forced to flee the country. On either side await perils like starvation, sexual abuse, and even death.
“These kids don’t know about their future,” Dr Mukul Singhal, an Indian orthopaedic surgeon who worked with MSF missions in Syria, told The Quint.
(With inputs from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières India)